Anne Howard, pioneer English teacher and one of the founders of Women’s Studies, dies

Anne Howard, a professor of English at the University for 37 years and a pioneering figure on campus who helped form the Women’s Studies Program, died in May. She was 94.

Howard, who dropped out of the University in 2000, had moved from Reno and had been living in Redding, Connecticut during the pandemic with his son Jason and his family.

“Achievements are legion and legend,” Jason said recently. “She enjoyed every year of literature, art, scholarship, politics, family and friends. Among Anne’s many scripts were Mother, Wife, Friend, Daughter, Grandmother, Aunt, Teacher, Journalist, and UNR Distinguished Professor. Additionally, she could be added Feminist, Politician, Leader, Author, Actor, Activist, Public Television Spokesperson, CASA (Court Appointed Special Counsel) and OLLI (Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning), volunteer, or Chautauqua Scholar.”

Anne Bail Howard taught and directed the remedial English program at the University of New Mexico before she and her husband, Bill, an art professor, joined the University’s faculty in 1963.

Jason Howard noted that the Howard family came to Reno after Bill “unexpectedly lost his teaching job” in New Mexico. “After a road trip job search, he came back with an offer to teach painting at the University of Nevada, Reno,” he said. “The bonus for Anne (who was in the process of finishing her dissertation in English) was her position in the English Department. For several years, she was the only professor in the department.”

Howard quickly made an impact. Jason Howard added: “The new job was a big step that she took very seriously. Some male colleagues weren’t sure there was a woman in the department, but several enlightened men helped remove the barriers. While teaching full-time, usually English composition, to often reluctant college students, she used the summers to finish her dissertation on Nathaniel Hawthorne. Finally, with a Ph.D., she was allowed to teach courses that reflected her passion for 19th-century American literature.

“When he learned that his salary was substantially lower than that of his male colleagues, he formulated a plan. First, he ran for the College Senate. Once she became a senator, she began a successful 11-year campaign to force a professor salary study, an effort that resulted in pay adjustments for women throughout the University.”

A founder of Women’s Studies

By 1973, Howard was serving as chair of the President’s Ad Hoc Committee on Women’s Studies. That year, Howard sent a letter to university president N. Edd Miller requesting funds to start a Women’s Studies Program for 1974.

“We present the papers for your consideration in the hope that this report will be the first step in the realization of a Women’s Studies Program at UNR,” Howard wrote. In the 1994 article, “Defining Moments in Women’s Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno,” by Sheryl Kleinendorst and Jean Ford, the authors noted that Howard’s letter was not simply a request. It included survey results focused on possible courses, student preferences for courses, and a survey detailing universities of similar size and scope where Women’s Studies programs already existed.

Howard’s letter included the news that several departments (Political Science, English, Sociology, Social and Correctional Services, Anthropology, and Art) were already offering courses in the subject or were planning to add courses soon. The short-term goal was to offer a core course, Women’s Studies 101, and within three years to offer Women’s Studies as a minor.

Howard added in his letter that, “We have tried to be realistic in our requests, keeping in mind the University’s perennial shortage of money for new programs, but recognizing the real need to develop programs for women.” Although she took some time, the University offered Women’s Studies 101 in the fall of 1979.

In a 1979 interview, Howard, who taught the language portion of the course, said, “In a way, it’s an effort to remedy past omissions. … I think that women need to be informed about their own past and their own character.”

Howard worked tirelessly behind the scenes throughout her college career to ensure that Women’s Studies gained traction. A program director, Elaine Enarson, was appointed for the 1985-86 academic year. She founded a Women’s Center during that time, eventually finding a home in one of the Victorians on Center Street. In the late 1990s, she joined a new major in Women’s Studies. Director of Women’s Studies Jennifer Ring noted in a 1997 interview that of the program’s growth, “English professor Anne Howard started it, and Ann Ronald, former Dean of Arts and Sciences, made it a priority.” “.

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‘The Long Campaign’ and equal rights

In addition to the work Howard did on numerous campus committees, Howard was an award-winning writer and instructor.

“He loved teaching teachers so much that he spent many years with the Nevada Writing Project, helping high school teachers across Nevada,” said Jason Howard. “His colleagues, familiar with his speaking skills at the College Senate’s crusades for pay equity with men, called on his performance skills on many occasions.”

Howard’s 1985 biography of Anne Martin, “The Long Campaign: A Biography of Anne Martin,” brought to life a story that was important in Nevada history. Martin, a graduate of the University in 1894, was one of the founders of the University’s Department of History. She traveled from state to state in an ultimately successful campaign that led to the passage of women’s suffrage in Nevada in 1914. Martin later ran for the United States Senate.

Martin, Howard wrote in his book, was “the classic new woman…educated, independent, travelled, ambitious.” Martin made her life’s call not back down and find ways to empower other women. She wanted, Howard wrote, to be “a role model for women, a woman who acts for her cause with all her abilities.”

A life of teaching, community involvement.

Howard herself had grown up around reading and education. Her mother, Effie, was a primary school teacher. Her father, Ernest Bail, was a chief civil engineer. In high school, she had worked as a proofreader at the Albuquerque, New Mexico newspaper, earning 85 cents an hour. After graduating from the University of New Mexico in 1949, she was a society editor at the Albuquerque newspaper, then moved with her husband Bill, an artist, to Mexico City, where she worked on the staff of an English newspaper.

In a 1985 interview, Howard confided that while he enjoyed journalism-related writing and reporting (he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in journalism), he “felt I wasn’t serving a purpose in journalism.” . .”

When she and Bill returned to New Mexico, she was teaching high school English and she liked it.

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“So I went back to school to get my doctorate,” he said. She and Bill also had a family: her son Jason and her daughter Emily. Her home was based on the arts, learning, respecting others, and fighting discriminatory behavior. She was a natural, she said in her 1999 Oral History, that when there were opportunities to change the status quo for the better at the University, she felt it was her duty to do something.

“When I’ve had cases, I’ve tried to be on my best behavior, get straight A’s,” she said in a 1999 college oral history. “I had two things I wanted to take on: the Women’s Studies Program and the Women’s Center, and it makes you a public and educated person, up to a point.”

It was during the 1980s that Howard became an even more visible and noticeable presence in the community. She lobbied for the Equal Rights Amendment in the Nevada State Legislature and supported and was a confidante to many of Northern Nevada’s most prominent and trailblazing female political figures of the time: State Assemblywoman and State Senator Mary Gojack, Secretary of State and Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa and Lieutenant Governor Sue Wagner. When Bill Howard died of cancer in 1986, Howard continued to give back to the community. She was an on-air spokeswoman for public radio station KUNR and public television station KNPB, and became active in Chautauqua, acting as notable female figures in American history.

In 2019, Howard sold his Reno home and moved into an assisted living facility in Ridgefield, Connecticut. He moved in with Jason and his wife Gail during the pandemic.

Howard is survived by his daughter Emily Howard and his wife Jennifer Strauss and their children, Emmett and Marina Blu Howard of Berkeley, California; his son Jason Howard and his wife Gail Hall Howard of Redding, Connecticut; Anne’s granddaughter Emily Hall and her great-granddaughter Rosie Hall of Redding, California; and a cousin, Carolyn Bail Isbell of Montrose, Colorado.

A celebration of Anne Howard’s life is planned for late August in Reno. When finished, Jason Howard will share the details of the meeting on your Facebook page.